Monday, March 12, 2012

Rust Belt Sirens

Come hither, urban pioneers and Rust Belt rufugees. Phil Kidd (Defend Youngstown) posted a link this morning that is sure to go viral among shrinking cities boosters. The MSNBC video is a round table about "How young entrepreneurs are reviving the Rust Belt". U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio) is one of the participants. He puts a slightly different spin on his efforts to plug the brain drain, not that MSNBC noticed. The real buzz concerns an upcoming exposé in Details about the Rust Belt revival. A sneak peek:

I had other friends who'd moved to one of the coasts but didn't find happiness until returning to the Rust Belt. Many ditched paper-pushing jobs for something more fulfilling, or found work in Pittsburgh or Cincinnati that let them have lives outside the office. But the lifestyle isn't the Rust Belt's only appeal: These cities' architecture and infrastructure are genuinely beautiful and a constant reminder that for generations people from around the world have been flocking to the region to make things. Forget the cliches about depression and decay. The spirit that survives in the Rust Belt is marked by the freedom to do whatever you want in the shadow of the industrial past.

James Griffioen is describing a migration archetype that defines the latest globalization epoch in the United States. Talent is returning and others are following, turning the urban hierarchy upside down. The world used to be spiky.

As usual, the press is late to the party. In cities such as Cleveland, the transformation is largely unnoticed. I'll have more to say about that later this week. The trend Griffioen is describing is in full bloom. It is years in the making and finally obvious enough to spillover into a magazine such as Details. The people most surprised by this news are Rust Belt residents who never left. That's because people develop, not places.

1 comment:

Leah said...

Hi Jim, just perusing your recent post this afternoon, and I must say this quote resonates with me and surely with several other people I know here in Pittsburgh.